Reaction of advocates based in Nairobi on the relevance of the compulsory continuing legal education programme
Education is important for the imparting of knowledge, positive judgment as well as developing wisdom. In a dynamic and competitive world, there is need for individuals in all professions to ensure the systematic maintenance and improvement of knowledge, skills and competence, and enhancement of learning throughout their working life. Continuous Professional Development therefore encompasses both formal and informal means of maintaining an existing knowledge base by updating on changes; acquiring new knowledge connected to the practice of a profession in order to extend and amplify knowledge, sensitiveness or skill; and honing existing knowledge to improve the overall standards of practice of a professional The law Society of Kenya did in 2004 start a mandatory continuing education programme for all advocates and further require that every application for renewal of annual practicing certificate must by prove that the applicant has secured five units of Continuing Legal Education in the previous year of practice. This requirement effectively makes CLE mandatory since an advocate can not practice without the certificate. This study sought to establish the reaction of advocates practicing in Nairobi to the mandatory CLE and also find out whether the advocates deem CLE to be important to their legal practice. The study also sought to recommend ways of improving the CLE programme. From the findings of the study, majority of advocates practicing in Nairobi agree that Continuing Legal Education is necessary and are indeed engaged in Continuous Professional Development on their own. However, majority of advocates are of the opinion that CLE should be voluntary rather than mandatory and that it is not necessary to peg renewal of the practicing certificate to the completion of CLE units. The findings of the study also indicate that majority of the advocates are moderately satisfied with the quality of the courses being offered as well as the quality of trainers. However it appears that some more needs to be done on this aspect to improve the quality of the programmes as well as that of the trainers. Advocates are agreed that that the number of units to be undertaken by advocates should vary depending on the number of years an advocate has been in practice and that some level of exemption is desirable especially for advocates who have many years in practice. Of great concern is the fact that majority of the advocates did not feel that attending CLE directly translates into improvement of their legal practice.